From sustainability to regeneration to self-organizing systems

Regeneration of all too many of our failing societal systems cannot come from the top. While we may continue to talk about democracy and the free market as being the least objectionable systems we have, waiting on dysfunctional mega-bureaucracies like government, global agencies, international banking, finance and trade, entertainment, education, social security, and healthcare to provide desirable new futures for all is fast becoming delusional.

In the long run, pushback against unjust systems whose power is grounded in fear, greed, and self-perpetuation is inevitable, and the growing large-scale informal (actual and virtual) social networks bear witness to the fact that real change is occurring at the grassroots level. It is time to acknowledge that this may be the only level at which significant change is going to happen.

One of the more potentially interesting characteristics of these informal organizations is that they are self-organizing, rallying around a common cause that most often serves a higher purpose than mere self-interest. These movements have facilitators rather than leaders or even organizers, and leadership may shift from one day to the next, from one location to another as needed.

Incorporated organizations  of all types and sizes have much to learn from these new systems. One way to begin this journey to a new way of being and doing is to complete the Regenerative Capacity Index (RCI). This survey is designed to clarify the nature and quality of an organization’s awareness, commitment and active engagement in becoming a sustainable and regenerative force in its industry and community. It has been developed from systematic research and process consulting work with successful sustainability leaders in business, education, government, and community organizations since 2007. This instrument emerged from the Regenerative Leadership Framework (see Hardman, J. (2012). Leading for Regeneration: Going beyond sustainability in business, community, and education. London: Routledge).

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